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20.05.2019 Europe

French doctors begin halting life support for man in vegetative state - lawyer

MAY 20, 2019 EUROPE

French doctors Monday began switching off the life support of a quadriplegic man who has been in a vegetative state for the last decade, in a hugely controversial case that has divided France, the lawyer for his parents said.

The dispute over the fate of Vincent Lambert has split his own family and even become a subject of political tension in France ahead of the weekend's European elections. 

His parents, who vehemently opposed ending his life, have repeatedly challenged court decisions to switch off the systems. But doctors had said the halt would start Monday following a final judicial ruling.

Jean Paillot, the lawyer for Vincent Lambert's parents, said doctors at the hospital in Reims had begun switching off the systems Monday morning. "It is shameful, they (the parents) could not even embrace their son," he told said

Other family sources also confirmed the systems were being switched off. The parents' legal team had on Sunday vowed to launch multiple legal challenges in a last-ditch bid to stop the systems being switched off.

Vincent Sanchez, the doctor treating Lambert who has been the target of the parents' anger, said in a message to the family that the "halting of treatments" and "profound and continued sedation" had been initiated.

In the message, he urged everyone to "rally around him (Vincent Lambert) so these moments are as peaceful, intimate and personal and possible."

Lambert's wife Rachel, five of his siblings and his nephew Francois, have all backed the decision to begin switching off the systems.